Win the Toy Battle

When it comes to fighting toy clutter, a strong offence is the best defence. Here are five ideas for preventing junior's collection from taking over (& five ways to fight back when playthings get the upper hand)

Go on the offence

Opt for design-savvy toys Stylish developmental toys will have grown-ups oohing and aahing instead of ouch-ing ’cause they’ve stepped on a mini stiletto slingback. Brio, Zolo, Tree Blocks and Plan Toys all make superfun, heirloom-quality toys you’ll love keeping out in the open. Mess? What mess?

Adopt a one-in, one-out policy Whenever your child is about to receive a windfall of toys (birthdays, etc.), or you’re at the toy store and she wants something, lay down the cardinal rule: any new toy coming in has to replace one that’s going to be cleaned and donated to charity.

Ask and ye shall not receive Loved ones can be gently asked to make a donation to charity, or contribute toward your wee one’s post-secondary education fund, in lieu of toys.

Win the Toy BattleGet real Swap toys for the real deals, and you’ll avoid plastic overload (credit-card damage, too!). Let your older toddler slice bananas or watermelon with a butter knife, or grow wheat grass in a resin pot. Help your preschooler drip food dye into a bowl of water to create “magic potion.” Activities you can eat, display or pour down the drain avoid clutter.

Go mini Littlest PetShop, Pocket Plants, Dinky Toys ““ petites can’t be beat.

Shore up your defence

Turn a shoe storage unit into a can’t-live-without-it, door-hung toy organizer (pictured) Customize it by gluing chic fabric ribbon onto the seams. The clear windows will make it easier for your child to sort and stash toys.

Dump it in stages With a toddler who may not be ready to say bye to her toys (even the ones she hasn’t touched in months!), move the mess out in stages. Tuck away the least popular items, and if she doesn’t ask about them four weeks later, take ’em to the Sally Ann.

Smaller messes are easier to contain If every room your kids play in has one tiny stash of toys, it’ll be easier to control than one Toy Central that needs overhauling every day.

Make some money! Big kids can hold their own yard sale. Smaller kids can run a mini-sale in one corner of your yard sale; it’s a great opportunity to familiarize them with money.

Make tidying time quality time Sure, older kids should clean their own room. But, then again, having some one-on-one time and talking without it actually being “A Serious Talk” is one of the best opportunities to get to know what’s on your teen’s mind. So see if you can help out, or if he’ll help you in the garage.

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